Many athletes have a large part of their daily diets that consist of fish and seafood. The reason is obviously quite simple - protein. Exploit the following guide on fish types, benefits of Omega 3 & 6 fats, and mercury levels!
Many bodybuilder/physique athletes have a large part of their daily diets that consist of fish and seafood. The reason is obviously quite simple, the fish and seafood have high amounts of protein and little carbs.
They also have fats only available in the way of Omega 3's, which are good for our bodies. Many people have trouble eating seafood and with the threat of toxins in the fish, it scares a good number of athletes to the poultry isle.
Fish are more different than you might think. Some fish are higher in fats, often used by the fish to help absorb and maintain heat. Since fish are poikiotherms (cold blooded) some types can have large amounts of fat under their skin.
Cold water fish often have higher contents of this fat, which is has been proven by the literature to help with many diseases and specifically lowering cholesterol. As fitness enthusiasts, you should consider that eating the fat from fish is very different than eating the fat from a land animal.
Omega 3s & 6s Again
Once again you are hearing about omega 3's and also omega 6 fatty acids. What is so darn important about getting these in your diet? The answer is very simple. Without them you will die. Your body does not make them and so you must eat foods that contain them. Omega's play a crucial role in growth and development and brain function.
Your body converts all eaten omega 3s to the EPA and DHA forms. There is a ton of research to show how fatty acids reduce inflammation, prevent heart disease, and even arthritis. HEART DISEASE IS THE NUMBER ONE THING LIKELY TO KILL YOU.
The balance of omega 3s and 6s is important to obtain maximal health. Red meat contains mostly omega 6 and the American diet is dangerously high in red meats. In contrast the Mediterranean diet is much higher in fish, so their rate of heart disease is much lower than the average American diets. Omega 3s are also found in whole grains, fresh fruits and raw vegetables, olive oil and even some moderate wine consumption.
Omega 3 are scientifically proven to reduce the risk of:
High blood pressure
Attention deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
Inflammatory bowel disorders
And several forms of cancer
Hemorrhagic stroke is a dangerous and likely fatal form of stroke in which an artery in the brain leaks or ruptures. A good powerlifting friend of mine, Kurk Bardos, has allergies to seafood and is in his forties now. Kurk just had a stroke. He has to start taking in omega 3 supplements since taking only 3 grams per day can lower his chance of stroke by over 50%.
Getting your omegas can also come from flax seed oil. Often times getting young children to eat fish is difficult, so adding this oil can help with the nutritional absorption.
View Flax Seed Products Sorted By Top Sellers Here.
It is important to get as much seafood in your diet as you can. Choosing seafood is relevant to the part of the world you are from. Use the list below to help determine which fish are best for you to eat.
Use the table below to compare your favorite seafood to tuna or orange roughy.
Fish & Seafood: Calorie, Fat & Protein Content:
(Portion size is 3.5 ounces (100 grams) uncooked.)
Fish Or Seafood
Bass (Small & Largemouth)
Blackfish (see Tautog)
Burbot (aka Lawyer fish)
Chinook Salmon (see Salmon)
Cisco (see Lake Herring)
Clam (meat only)
Coho Salmon (see Salmon)
Crab (cooked, steamed)
Dogfish, spiny (Grayfish)
Drum, Freshwater (Sheeps head)
Fish Sticks (frozen)
Herring (Bismark) (pickled)
Lake Herring (Cisco)
Lake Trout (Siscoette)
Under 6.5 pounds
Over 6.5 pounds
Mussels (meat only)
Northern Pike (see Pike)
Oyster (meat only)
Yellow (Lake Perch)
Porgy and Scup
Red, Gray Snappers
Redfish (see Perch, Ocean)
Rockfish (Black, Canary, Rasphead, Yellowtail, and Bocaccio)
Carp, Cod, Haddock, Herring, Pike & Shad
Salmon, Sturgeon & Turbot
Scallop (Bay and Sea)
Scup (see Porgy)
Sturgeon (see also Caviar)
Canned in oil (including liquids)
Canned in water (including liquids)
Turtle (just in case you eat it)
Walleye (see Pike)
Weakfish (It doesn't make you weak)
Whitefish, Lake (freshwater)
* Information from the Wisconsin Dept. of Education
Unfortunately the consumption of seafood results in an intake of the toxins associated with them. Mercury is a heavy metal and is often associated with seafood. The production of pollution results in mercury in our lakes, ponds and oceans, which are then absorbed by the seafood.
Click Image To Enlarge. The Consumption Of Seafood Results In An Intake Of The Toxins.
The US Department of Health (FDA) and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have released some guidelines for eating fish and avoiding toxic side effects.
Some seafood and fish have been known to have higher concentrations of mercury. Young children and pregnant women are at the greatest risk of mercury poisoning. They should avoid the following fish and seafood according to the FDA and the EPA. Consumption of flax seed oil is a better alternative.
Do not eat Shark, Swordfish, King Mackerel, or Tilefish because they contain high levels of mercury.
Eat up to 12 ounces (2 average meals) a week of a variety of fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury.
Five of the most commonly eaten fish that are low in mercury are shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, and catfish.
Another commonly eaten fish, albacore ("white") tuna has more mercury than canned light tuna. So, when choosing your two meals of fish and shellfish, you may eat up to 6 ounces (one average meal) of albacore tuna per week.
Check local advisories about the safety of fish caught by family and friends in your local lakes, rivers, and coastal areas. If no advice is available, eat up to 6 ounces (one average meal) per week of fish you catch from local waters, but don't consume any other fish during that week.
Follow these same recommendations when feeding fish and shellfish to your young child, but serve smaller portions.
Mercury occurs naturally in the environment and can also be released into the air through industrial pollution. Mercury falls from the air and once it hits the water in streams and oceans is turned into methylmercury. Fish and seafood absorb the methylmercury, which in turn can harm any human. This mercury is mostly harmful to young children and unborn children.
The fish and seafood from hatcheries are not exposed to pollutants like those from the commercial fishing industry. The water in the hatcheries is from a natural source and are usually self contained and in some cases use filtered water. Many states now require the origination of the fish to be marked on the product.
Florida is a leader in this endeavor and requires the fish to be marked what hatchery that it is from. Yellow perch for example is one of the least contaminated fish in the Ohio valley. Organizations like the Ohio Department of Natural Resources are great for information about the safety of fish and other wild life.
Table For Omega 3's & Mercury:
Fish Or Seafood
Mean Mercury Level In Parts Per Million (ppm)
Omega-3 Fatty Acids (Grams Per 3-oz. Serving)
Canned tuna (light)
Flounder or sole
*ND not detectable
Fish grown in fish hatcheries is much lower in mercury content. It is much safer to eat fish grown in "fish farms."
Some seafood has a natural ability to aid in fat metabolism. Orange roughy and other white fish have the ability to metabolize fats. The exact mechanism is not known, but it is believed to be associated with the overall content of highly potent fish oils.
Eating large amounts of orange roughy results in some rather embarrassing side effects, but you usually have to eat over 8 oz. to achieve this reaction. There is no question that the fish of choice by the elite physique professionals is orange roughy.
Orange roughy was originally caught off the coast of New Zealand. The fish was originally rather inexpensive and cost less than a few dollars a pound. Eventually the popularity of the fish grew exponentially and the price of the fish also jumped exponentially.
There is nothing wrong with eating seafood, but making the right choices will allow you to enjoy life to its fullest. The taste and your particular availability will help determine the best fish for you and considering the health benefits of eating seafood, you must try to eating at least 8 oz. every day.